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non-fiction recommendations for book-obsessed 9 year old boy anyone?

(20 Posts)
CaptainNelson Thu 08-Mar-18 22:09:16

DS3 is a complete bookaholic, reads everything he can, but it's all fiction. He's been told at school that he needs to read more non-fiction and it has to be registered on their Accelerated Reader programme, but we're struggling to come up with stuff that will work. Most of the non-fiction stuff in the school library is very, very easy for him, ie the picture-type books intended for primary - but his reading 'age' is apparently 16 (I take that with a pinch of salt, it just means he can cope with longer/more difficult books imo). He reads long books v easily (think His Dark Materials, Rick Riordan, Jacqueline Wilson). Can anyone recommend any non-fiction that might appeal to him? We're looking for more Horrible Histories (et al) from nearby libraries, as he's read all the one in our tiny local one, but he doesn't really love them that much.

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iklboo Thu 08-Mar-18 22:16:47

The Book People do some great sets of books on lots of subjects for not huge sums of money. DS has a few - general knowledge books, volcanoes, the human body, space etc.

user1496584851 Thu 08-Mar-18 22:20:40

I really liked 'Bomb! The Race to Build (and Steal) the World's Most Dangerous Weapon' about the race to develop the atomic bomb. It is non-fiction but in quite a narrative style. I'd normally think it would be for 12-13 year olds but it sounds as if he would cope well as long as he is interested in the subject matter. It's got a great beginning which is free as a kindle sample if you want to check it out and see if it appeals without buying it first.

CaptainNelson Sat 10-Mar-18 14:02:58

thanks both - useful recommendations. Atomic bomb one sounds really good

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EveryoneTalkAboutPopMusic Sun 11-Mar-18 21:52:29

Try him with George’s Secret Key to the Universe. It’s a mix of fiction and fact. The fiction is written by Lucy Hawking and the factual bits are written by her DF Stephen Hawking.

Hotdoggity Sun 11-Mar-18 21:57:32

The Lost Words is beautiful.

PatriciaHolm Sun 11-Mar-18 21:58:42

Roald Dahls autobiographies?

64BooLane Sun 11-Mar-18 22:03:17

Memoir can be great at that age. Often it’s highly narrative and readable. I remember loving “Growing Up” by Russell Baker at the age of about eleven (kind of random but I was living in the US and it’s an American book). Not saying you should seek that one out, but maybe keep an eye out for well-written memoirs by people who are funny, and have a good memory for what their own childhood was like.

Or also how about something like early Bill Bryson? Humourous but also informative?

CaptainNelson Sun 11-Mar-18 22:43:14

Thanks for these - great. He's read George's Secret Key a few times, and also the Roald Dahl autobiographies. I'll get him to check if they count as non-fiction (I believe RD's were slightly liberal with the truth!) on his school reading thingy. I've never heard of the Lost Words - will look for that.
I wondered about Bill Bryson - there is that children's version of the Short History of Everything, and also the Thunderbolt Kid - he might like that. Not sure if the others would be deemed 'appropriate' though - may have to do some re-reading. Thanks all!

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EveryoneTalkAboutPopMusic Sun 11-Mar-18 22:50:46

Has he read the sequels rto the George book?

64BooLane Sun 11-Mar-18 23:02:49

Oh, pfftt to appropriateness grin

Good luck to him. How lovely to be a small book lover with a lifetime of stories ahead of you!

cdtaylornats Sun 11-Mar-18 23:12:30

If he has read any Discworld then he might like the Science of Discworld books.

The first one has the wizards accidentally creating Earth and its universe. Basically the chapters alternate with the wizards doing things while having ethical discussions about handling a pocket universe. Then the next chapter discusses the science behind what happened in the chapter before. Book 1 starts at the big bang and discusses cosmology.

The second book is essentially the same format but covers scientific commentary on the evolution and development of the human mind, culture, language, art, and science

Book 3 covers Darwin and his effect on humanity

Book 4 covers world-bearing elephants, quantum gravity in the Escher-verse, evolutionary design, eternal inflation, dark matter, disbelief systems -- and an in-depth study of how to invent a better mousetrap.

cdtaylornats Sun 11-Mar-18 23:18:11

Liza Picard has a series of 4 history books about every day life in London in 4 different periods

Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870
Dr. Johnson's London
Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London
Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s

jellybellywelly Sun 11-Mar-18 23:28:22

Almost everything there is to know by Timothy hunkin. Brilliant book I spent hours reading it as a child.

Surely you're joking Mr feynman - absolutely fascinating and so easy to read, real page Turner a bit like Roald Dahl autobiography style but by a (Nobel winning) physicist. He's interested in languages, love, codes, safe breaking, sleep deprivation, psychology, physics, anything really! Such a great book

How about Oliver sacks, the man who mistook his wife for a hat?

My dad bought me a compilation of black. Box transcripts (from airplane crashes) when I was 13 which I read compulsively but I'm not sure that's to be recommended!

Survivors by David Long, extraordinary from the wild and beyond.

Canoeing down everest by Mike Jones

James herriot books,,! Factual and gripping and fun

jellybellywelly Sun 11-Mar-18 23:30:00

Josie dew in the land of the neon Sun, about cycling through Japan, I think that's a great book too

Waddlelikeapenguin Sun 11-Mar-18 23:32:47

Murderous maths?

SisterNotCis Mon 12-Mar-18 09:42:27

I am Malala - young readers edition
Apollo 8 The Longest Journey
Star talk - young readers edition

Grumpbum Mon 12-Mar-18 09:48:19

If you go onto and do an advanced search you can look for non fiction book suggestions by year range and level

MedicalEnigma Mon 12-Mar-18 10:04:27

My DD is the same as your DS in terms of reading competency but she has no love of fiction books. She’s 8. She has always preferred non fiction and chooses and loves anything factual.

DK books have been big hits, recently she liked the ones about the human body. She previously was keen on space, the vikings, Romans, Egyptians, various world wars and ones about what school life is like for children from around the world. They have kids and adults books and she dips back and forth across these.

It’s about accumulating general knowledge with my DD I think, she doesn’t seem to have the attention span to stick with fiction so when she does read (stuff like David Williams and Jacqueline Wilson) she has several books on the go at once. But she’s never been excited by fiction or begging to keep reading the next chapter etc.

CaptainNelson Mon 12-Mar-18 23:09:04

@64 grin I know, at home we don't mind but at school there's always the treading carefully business...
@cdtaylor He hasn't got into Discworld yet, but adores Diana Wyn Jones so that's a great tip, thank you. He will def enjoy the historical ones, he's read a lot of the My Story books and really enjoyed them
@jelly Black box transcripts?!! That made me laugh after a long and bad day, thank you. And also for the ideas, brilliant
@waddle I will have to look into those - he likes maths and has a competition going with his best friend on who's better
@sister I thought about I am Malala, will follow those up, thank you
@grump We did this and most of the books which came up aren't in the school library or in the local library, unhelpfully. They're also the kind of factual book he's not really into. We've just got to keep working through the (4 page) list I guess...
@medical Weird, isn't it, because DS is exactly the opposite. He knows everything there is to know about the Greek gods through stories, but isn't really interested in the kind of DK factual/picture books. We have a load of them and he'll look at them occasionally, but then reverts to something long and narrative. Obviously minds which work in completely opposite ways.
Thanks all for so much great advice

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